From Princess to Trucker: How Girls Can Color Inside & Outside the Gender Lines

splitscreen-300x214My daughter loves to twirl around in a tutu.  She loves to play “trucks” and “doctor.” She pretends to be a fairy princess and a dinosaur. She climbs.  She runs. She kicks. She investigates bugs and touches worms. She plays with dolls, gets elbow deep in water play at the sink and digs in the sand at the playground. Oh, and she gets dirty.  Boy, can she do that well. She loves it all.

My husband and I have chosen to let her find her own way when it comes to her passions and her preferences.   We expose her to all different kinds of experiences and watch what she enjoys.  We don’t pigeon hole or steer clear of anything because it’s too “girly” or too “boyish.” I don’t really care what the labels are.  She is who she is and I love it.

Last Saturday she dressed up as a princess for her good friend’s “royal” dance party.  Pearls, a tiara, a fancy pink dress with a tutu attached.  She was in her glory.

On Sunday we took her to “Touch-A-Truck” where she could get in real tractors, cranes, buses, ambulances and back hoes and work the levers, pull the horn, push the buttons, and open and close the doors.  Again, she was in her glory. She is free to float up and down the preset gender continuum and it’s a beautiful thing.

If we are to help our daughters and our sons truly become all that they can be, they can’t be boxed in, pushed down and told to remain strong-footed on one side or the other of some prefabricated line. As parents and teachers, it is up to us to open our children up to the whole world rather than closing them off to a part that might make them truly feel at home.

For us, we feel that if our daughter is to become the person she was meant to be on this planet, we can’t limit her. Keeping safety and character in tact, we simply don’t keep her from experiencing, exploring and experimenting.  I want her to keep all 5 senses open and sharp so she can discover…herself.

No boxes, no ceilings, no lines. Just her. In her glory.

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From Princess to Trucker: How Girls Can Color Inside & Outside the Gender Lines is a post from: Dr. Robyn Silverman – Child Development Specialist, Body Image Expert, Success Coach & the Creator of the Powerful Words Character Development System

From Princess to Trucker: How Our Children Can Color Inside & Outside the Gender Lines

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Tallie; on Saturday as a princess and on Sunday as a trucker!

My daughter loves to twirl around in a tutu.  She loves to play “trucks” and “doctor.” She pretends to be a fairy princess and a dinosaur. She climbs.  She runs. She kicks. She investigates bugs and touches worms. She plays with dolls, gets elbow deep in water play at the sink and digs in the sand at the playground. Oh, and she gets dirty.  Boy, can she do that well. She loves it all.

My husband and I have chosen to let her find her own way when it comes to her passions and her preferences.   We expose her to all different kinds of experiences and watch what she enjoys.  We don’t pigeon hole or steer clear of anything because it’s too “girly” or too “boyish.” I don’t really care what the labels are.  She is who she is and I love it.

Last Saturday she dressed up as a princess for her good friend’s “royal” dance party.  Pearls, a tiara, a fancy pink dress with a tutu attached.  She was in her glory.

On Sunday we took her to “Touch-A-Truck” where she could get in real tractors, cranes, buses, ambulances and back hoes and work the levers, pull the horn, push the buttons, and open and close the doors.  Again, she was in her glory. She is free to float up and down the preset gender continuum and it’s a beautiful thing.

If we are to help our daughters and our sons truly become all that they can be, they can’t be boxed in, pushed down and told to remain strong-footed on one side or the other of some prefabricated line. As parents and teachers, it is up to us to open our children up to the whole world rather than closing them off to a part that might make them truly feel at home.

For us, we feel that if our daughter is to become the person she was meant to be on this planet, we can’t limit her. Keeping safety and character in tact, we simply don’t keep her from experiencing, exploring and experimenting.  I want her to keep all 5 senses open and sharp so she can discover…herself.

No boxes, no ceilings, no lines. Just her. In her glory.

drrobynsig170

 

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From Princess to Trucker: How Our Children Can Color Inside & Outside the Gender Lines is a post from: Dr. Robyn Silverman – Child Development Specialist, Body Image Expert, Success Coach & the Creator of the Powerful Words Character Development System

Time Magazine’s Cover Promotes More Competition in Moms: Are YOU Mom Enough?

time_breastfeeding1-225x300I’m not going to belabor the point.  I do, however, feel it important for me to address the underlying message women–mothers– get when looking at the May 2012 Time Magazine cover featuring 26 year old Jamie Lynne Grumet breastfeeding her three year old son, Aram.

There are so many messages out there pitting one mom against the other.  Who works, who stays home. Who is class mother and who writes the check for more school supplies. Who is soccer mom and who can attend a game only from time to time.

Someone always loses out.

In this cover article, it’s not the breastfeeding component that strikes me.  it’s the title. Are you Mom enough?  What’s implied is that some are and some aren’t.  And of course, the self-critical voice inside your head has to ask; where do I fall?

I don’t like it. How many more times do we need to bash ourselves as Moms? Who’s thinner? Who’s prettier? Who’s more popular with the in-crowd in town? Come on. Parenting is hard enough.

How do you feel about it? I have to wonder if I’m the only one who was frustrated about the secondary implications of this article…

Time Magazine’s Cover Promotes More Competition in Moms: Are YOU Mom Enough?is a post from: Dr. Robyn Silverman – Child Development Specialist, Body Image Expert, Success Coach & the Creator of the Powerful Words Character Development System

Spring Cleaning! How to Clear Out the Medicine Cabinet So You Actually Know Where Things Are

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We had a pretty ridiculous practice in our house.  When one of our kids got sick (or we got sick ourselves…usually because they were sick), we went out to the drug store and got whatever we needed to help that person feel better. While on face value that might sounds completely normal and reasonable, the truth is that we already had all the stuff we needed.  We just didn’t know where to find it!

To say Spring Cleaning and getting organized was necessary is a real understatement.  What a mess!  As you can see, everything was dumped into containers and shoved in our linen closet and in random places around the house.  Cough medicine, band-aids, Pepto-bismol, extra bottles of pain reliever and the kids medicines were swimming together in a sea of anarchy. There was no rhyme or reason to the madness.

It was time to do something about it.  I figure, perhaps I’m not the only one who had this problem—and if I am, let this article serve as a reminder to myself of what was and how things should be!

(1) Gather it all together: Get everything that’s considered medicine or treatment for ailments in one place.  Go into every medicine cabinet and take out the pill bottles you haven’t even looked at in years.  Rescue the Band-aids from the bottom of the closet and the Neosporin from whomever’s room where you used it last. Now, dump it out on the floor or on the table so you can see everything.

springclean_5-225x300(2) Check for dates: Go through every pill and medicine bottle and check for the expiration dates. You may be surprised.  Well, maybe not surprised but perhaps a little concerned or embarrassed.  Whoops!  Here’s one pill bottle I found from 2008—yup, I think that one’s a goner.  Um…dispose of those!

(3) Categorize: Put each medication or treatment into a category.  For example, “Stomach pain,” “First-aid,” “Cold & Flu,” “Ears, Eyes, & Throat,” and “Muscle soreness.”  You can have a miscellaneous if you don’t know where it fits.

(4) Box it up: Put the medications and treatments in clear drawers or clear boxes based on the categories you made. Place it in neatly so you springclean_4-300x225 don’t have to rummage through everything to find what you are looking for…at midnight…with the lights off. Make extra little boxes to keep elsewhere if you often use certain things very often in a separate area of your home. For example, I made a “Boo Boo Box” because, well, I have 2 young kids who run into things a lot.  And I also made a box for all of my daughter’s hair ties and accessories—it was one of the most exciting parts of this process.  I don’t know how to explain how good it feels to have all that stuff in one place instead of all over my house.  Someone reading this will understand—others will likely think I’m nuts.

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(5) Label it:  If you have a label machine, by all means, use it!  If you don’t, just write out what’s in the box on card stock, construction paper, or mailing labels.

(6) Place it in the closet and marvel: Wow.  Did you know you had that much space?  I know.  The question is looming; why didn’t you do this sooner?  That was knocking around in my brain too.  Forget that.  You did it!  How cool are you?

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It was a little odd, but I was actually couldn’t wait until someone needed something. A little nerdy of me– but hey, I knew where it was! Stomach pain? Here you go! Lozenges? Back in a flash!  Of course, with a young family, I didn’t have to wait long.  And that boo boo box certainly has gotten a work out already.

Good luck to you!

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Spring Cleaning! How to Clear Out the Medicine Cabinet So You Actually Know Where Things Are is a post from: Dr. Robyn Silverman – Child Development Specialist, Body Image Expert, Success Coach & the Creator of the Powerful Words Character Development System

Plastic surgery to look like a celebrity: Dr. Robyn on The Anderson Cooper Show

 

Credit: Anderson

Credit: Anderson

Whether it’s to slim down with lipo, get butt implants, undergo botox or augment the breasts, some women are getting multiple procedures at young ages. I sat down with some of the women who are past or current plastic surgery clients to talk about my views of this practice and how we can refocus on what’s truly important.There is a disturbing trend, according to plastic surgeons, that shows that more people are going under the knife to look like their favorite celebrities.  Jennifer Lopez. Carmen Electra. Megan Fox. These are some of the favorite target faces, boobs, and butts of plastic surgery clients in America.

Brandie, the woman in the middle of the photo, tells us in the preview of the show; “When you look beautiful, that’s how you make money. Doesn’t everyone want to make money?” Do you agree? What do you think of getting plastic surgery to look like a celebrity?  Worth the risk or not?

(Preview of show below)

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Plastic surgery to look like a celebrity: Dr. Robyn on The Anderson Cooper Show is a post from: Dr. Robyn Silverman – Child Development Specialist, Body Image Expert, Success Coach & the Creator of the Powerful Words Character Development System

Summer Body Confidence: Dr. Robyn Silverman on The Revolution

Swimsuit season is often a time when many people feel insecure about their bodies.  We tend to hear lots of concerns. Thighs are too big.  Stomach isn’t flat enough.  Boobs and butt aren’t where they’re supposed to be anymore.

drtiff-300x227On the set of The Revolution, along with Dr. Tiffanie Davis Henry, I speak with 2 women who are embarking on a 20 day swimsuit challenge.  My feeling is that the real change must come from the inside.  How they feel about their bodies, how they talk to themselves, and how they recognize all the wonderful things their bodies allow them to do everyday can change their perspective.

timgunnb-300x215What do you think?  I’ll be back in the studio for the “reveal” and we’ll see how far these women have come! What wonderful people– and I loved meeting Dr. Tiffanie and Tim Gunn. Lots of fun…looking forward to reveal day!

 

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Summer Body Confidence: Dr. Robyn Silverman on The Revolution is a post from: Dr. Robyn Silverman – Child Development Specialist, Body Image Expert, Success Coach & the Creator of the Powerful Words Character Development System

Bully: The Seven Problems Revealed Through This Groundbreaking Documentary

When watching Bully, the issues these young people must deal with each day come flying in our faces all at once.  We are left feeling overwhelmed but unsure how to tackle such a large-scale problem.  Bullying…what to do? Breaking down the concerns one by one becomes a necessary part of addressing them.

(1)  Adults can’t stop what they don’t see: On the bus, in the hallways, or just outside the school doors lies opportunity after opportunity for children to bully and to be victimized.  Why? Because they are left on their own to police themselves.  Some may argue that children must be able to, on the one hand, behave with character and on the other hand, defend themselves if that is not the case even when adults are not present.  However, this simply isn’t happening for some students. To simply talk about what is supposed to happen as a solution to a problem that is happening is idiotic. Adults must be present in areas where children convene in and around the schools.

bully1-300x200(2)  Adults can’t fix what they don’t know how to fix: Clearly solutions are complex and can’t be generalized from one student to the next. Eliminating or reducing bullying is not a one size fits all exercise.  Still, we can hear the frustration of the administrator at the Sioux City, Iowa where Alex Libby attends. She whispers to herself in the hallway; “How do I fix this? How do I fix this?” as loudly as her non-committal promise to Alex’s exasperated parents; “We will take care of this.”  How can she take care of what she doesn’t know how to fix?  Continued education on the part of educators and administrators is necessary in areas where they quite obviously are deficient in knowledge and skill.

(3)  Rules can’t just be articulated without enforcement: I was brought in as an expert on Fox News when the stringent, controversial bullying laws were put into effect in NJ on September 1, 2011.  During the segment, a veteran teacher expressed that teachers already announce the rules of conduct in the beginning of the year as if to say, “that should be enough.”  Perhaps in a perfect world it would be enough.  However, this is not reality.  Asserting the rules isn’t the same as enforcing the rules.  Consequences must be immediate and commensurate with the offense. That’s the only way children take what adults say seriously. Otherwise, it’s just bureaucratic chatter.

(4)  Stating what is doesn’t make it right: We heard iterations of this throughout the documentary.

  • “Buses are notoriously bad places for lots of kids.”
  • “Kids will be kids, boys will be boys…they’re just cruel at that age.”
  • “Every school has some problems with bullying.”

Yeah, and? Stating the obvious doesn’t give us permission to turn a blind eye and throw up our hands.  It may be complicated.  It may be happening all over.  It may be challenging to address. But children have a legal rite to learn in an environment in which they feel safe. If we know the issues, it’s time to address them rather than ignore them.

bully-movie-202x300(5)  Effectiveness can’t be assumed: When Alex was asked if he trusts the school officials to take care of the problems, he very clearly says that he had reported that a child “had sat on my head” and nothing was done.  The school official balks at his accusation and tells him that she did indeed talk to the boy and “he didn’t do that again, did he?”  Of course the boy terrorized Alex in different ways.  You definitely got the feeling that school officials wanted so badly to hear that things were fine that they didn’t investigate whether or not they were indeed resolved.  Ignorance might be bliss but it’s not effective in counteracting bullying. The school official never followed up with Alex to see how effective her discussion was or to ensure Alex that his words did not fall on deaf ears.

(6)  Teachers can be part of the problem: I talk about this in my own body image book, Good Girls Don’t Get Fat. We are very fortunate to have many capable, caring teachers in the lives of our children.  However, that doesn’t mean they are all competent and kind.  Sometimes there is an issue with lack of skill to cope with the bullying problem while other times the problem is completely denied.  As the school official from Alex’s school tells his mother who is desperate to keep her son safe on the bus where his tormentors hurt his everyday; “I’ve been on that bus. They are just as good as gold!”  Other times the teachers perpetrate similar aggression that is typically pegged to the kids themselves. We learn about the problem from Kelby Johnson, a 16-year-old who came out as gay while living in the heart of “Bible Belt Oklahoma.” She reports that; “One teacher was calling roll…and she was like, ‘Boys,’ and then said ‘Girls,’ and then she stopped and said ‘Kelby.’ There were a lot of snide remarks from teachers. None of them had my back. They joined in with the kids, a really unsupportive school system.”

(7) Adults who are trying to help can inadvertently make things worse: Many young people don’t feel that they have at least 3 adults in their lives who they can turn to in a time of need or challenge.  They often feel that adults make things worse for them by trying to quickly Band-Aid the problem or by giving them unproductive advice.    You can’t help but wonder how Alex will fare on the bus after several of his fellow riders are questioned and warned about their behavior towards him. Given past ineffectual warnings to his bullies, will going “half in” really help Alex in the long run?  You can’t help but cringe when Alex’s father tells him that he has to fight back and not to be a doormat. As Alex so desperately wants to fit in and believe that his bullies are just “messing around,” how can such advice help? It may very well be the action his father would have taken. It is obvious that it is the advice his father would like his son to employ. But these points are mute because it’s Alex not his father who must get on that bus. It’s vital that we ask ourselves what the answer is for this child—an answer that will keep him or her safe while being practical and successful.

At the end of the day it comes down to accountability.  It’s apparent that some school officials want to pass the buck to parents while many parents are looking to the schools, their towns or cities, and other parents to help solve the problem.  The truth is that community movement doesn’t happen without the cooperation of all its members.  And cooperation means that everyone admits there is a problem and then takes on a little accountability to ensure that a safe and fair learning environment is an expected, respected and enforced right for every child.

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Bully: The Seven Problems Revealed Through This Groundbreaking Documentary is a post from: Dr. Robyn Silverman – Child Development Specialist, Body Image Expert, Success Coach & the Creator of the Powerful Words Character Development System

Dr. Robyn Silverman on Anderson Cooper’s Show

cleardot Dr. Robyn Silverman on Anderson Coopers Show

Dr. Robyn Silverman went back to Anderson Cooper’s Daytime show as the body image expert to help Moms and their daughters deal with the trickle-down effects of body obsession.  As studies tell us, those mothers who are obsessed with their weight and appearance are more likely to have daughters who are obsessed with their weight and appearance. We see here, that the mother-daughter relationship can also suffer.
While the original taping had a lot more content, the broadcast version was cut down– but you’ll get the idea!

Dr. Robyn Silverman on Anderson Cooper’s Show is a post from: Dr. Robyn Silverman – Child Development Specialist, Body Image Expert, Success Coach & the Creator of the Powerful Words Character Development System

Ask Dr. Robyn: Questions to Ask Grandparents for Commemorative Legacy Video?

Dear Dr. Robyn, I was just wondering what kinds of questions I should ask my grandparents about their lives if I want to video them for legacy month.  Thanks for your help. — Brody, age 12, NC

Here you go, Brody!  Thanks for your great question. Commemorating your grandparents in a video is a wonderful way to preserve their legacy for generations to come. Can’t wait to hear how your legacy videos turn out!

This month is LEGACY month for Powerful Words member schools! Dr. Robyn covers in this video, questions about the past, favorite things, lessons learned, advice, and how they want to be remembered.

Ask Dr. Robyn: Questions to Ask Grandparents for Commemorative Legacy Video? is a post from: Dr. Robyn Silverman – Child Development Specialist, Body Image Expert, Success Coach & the Creator of the Powerful Words Character Development System

“I hate you!” Six Tips to Help Parents Deal with Their Child’s Angry Words

tantrumgirl-300x199“I hate you!”

No…your child’s body has not been taken over by aliens.  You do not need to clean out your ears. That’s right.  You heard it correctly.

Any person who has ever said that “words will never hurt you” never had their child say “I hate you” to his face. You know.  It has probably happened to you.

Being a parent is tough sometimes, isn’t it?  You know in your head that your child does not really hate you.  But when he utters those words…it’s hard not to feel a surge of sadness, frustration, hurt or anger.

We often don’t know what to do when our kids come out with these verbal lashings.  It’s unexpected.  Shocking. Isn’t this the little cherub that hugs you 20 times a day and can’t go to bed unless you’re there to kiss him goodnight?

When children are young, they don’t have the subtle language to beat around the bush.  When they are angry, they say it.  It’s normal.  It just doesn’t feel like it when it happens to you.

So…what should you do?

(1)  Look for the issue behind the words:  Your child doesn’t always have the language to explain his frustration.  When your child says “I hate you,” he might be having difficultly completing a task, attaining something he wants, or expressing a complex emotion like fear.  As parents, we must become a detective and figure out what our children are really trying to relay.

(2)  Help your child recognize anger:  This is the first real step in anger management.  If your child can recognize when he is feeling angry, he will have an easier time expressing and coping with the feeling rather than lashing out.  Ask your child, “what does your body feel like when you are angry?”  Help him to name it while it is happening, “I can tell by your face and your body that you are angry. You are having trouble turning your toy on.  That’s very frustrating!”  This will help to validate what your child is feeling and while also helping him to put a name to the emotion and the cause of the anger.

(3)  Give your child the right words: When your child is calm, talk about what happened.  Remind him of when he was feeling angry earlier in the day and what he said.  Let him know that when he says “I hate you,” it hurts your feelings.  Then ask him, “What can you say instead?” If he is unsure, give him the right words.  “When you feel this way, instead of saying ‘I hate you,’ say, ‘I feel angry and I need help, please.”  Help him to practice expressing his feelings so that when he is angry again (and he will be!), he can call on these skills.

(4)  Provide calming techniques: We all get angry.  Helping your child deal with anger in a constructive manner will be a gift that he can use for the rest of his life.  Introduce and practice some techniques when your child is open to listening (not when in the heat of battle!).  Counting to 10, singing a song, running in place, and talking to oneself, are some simple ways to calm down when angry.  One of my favorite techniques I use with young children is to “smell the roses and blow away the clouds.” This is a powerful way to teach children to take a few deep breaths.

(5)  Provide problem solving techniques: Let your child know that there are lots of ways to solve problems.  If something isn’t working, try something else!  You might say, “Could you help me put the wheel back on my truck?” or “maybe I should play with something else.”  Help your child think about solutions that are safe, fair, and likely to be successful.

(6)  Watch your own language: Regrettably, in this case, “monkey see, monkey do.”  If you use harsh language in anger or you say “I hate” towards objects around your own house (i.e. I hate doing laundry; I hate carrots; I hate when the phone rings during your nap time), your child will pick up on it and use it himself.  Unfortunately, such language might be directed at you!

Perhaps the most important thing for you to keep in mind while all this is happening is that your child doesn’t really hate you.  So take a deep breath. Sometimes parents, too, need to remember to smell the flowers and blow away the clouds.  After all, it is likely that clear skies are on the horizon.

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Note: Some of this article was originally posted in Bay State Parent Magazine, 2008.

 

 

“I hate you!” Six Tips to Help Parents Deal with Their Child’s Angry Words is a post from: Dr. Robyn Silverman – Child Development Specialist, Body Image Expert, Success Coach & the Creator of the Powerful Words Character Development System